Tag Archives: self-control

How to handle difficult people: When they insult you, eulogize ’em!

2 Aug

I learned a shocking thing about eulogies, and in this post I’m going to reveal what I learned.

This week we are studying 1 Peter 3:8-12, and so far we have learned the Top 5 adjectives that Peter says should describe a church family.  Now he gets to some verbs, some actions that members of a church family should practice.

Look at Verse 9 and we see the verb “paying back”, or as the NIV says “repay”.  This can be positive or negative.  You have to look at the context.  A payback can be very positive, right? When you borrow money, you pay it back.  That is good.  Or when someone is kind to you, then you are kind back.  Or you might pay it forward.  You are sitting at the drive through and the person in front of you pays for your meal, so you pay for the meal of the person behind you.  Those are awesome paybacks.

Then there are other not so awesome paybacks.  And that is the verb, the action Peter is talking about.  But he puts a tiny little three letter word in front of it, the word “not”.  Do not repay.  Do not do the negative paybacks. At a recent youth group pool party, I witnessed tons of paybacks.  A person would be standing on the edge of the pool, and another person nearby would push them in!  Guess what would happen five minutes later?  Yeah, paybacks.  I think we got to the point where there paybacks for paybacks for paybacks.

The first things Peter mentions is paying back evil for evil.  Don’t do that, he says.  The second thing he mentions is paying back insult with insult. Don’t do that either.

The word Peter uses for “insult” means “highly insulting and slanderous.”  We are not sure if Peter is referring to the method or the message, or both.  It doesn’t matter.  Don’t do either one.  Don’t speak with an insulting tone, and don’t speak insulting messages.  He is saying “Don’t pay back an insulting comment with an insult of your own.”

This requires huge amounts of self-control and love.  We need it in church families just as much as we need it in any family, any friendship, and workplace, any neighborhood.  Christians show self-control when someone treats us bad.

How about you?  Do you have trouble with self-control?  Has your mouth gotten you in trouble?   The escalation of insulting one another is rampant in our society, and it can happen in the church too.  Drama increases! What should we do when people are mean to us?

As Peter continues in verse 9, he gives us the answer.  Guess what?  He says the answer is eulogy!  See the word “Blessing”? In Greek this is the word from which we get our English word “eulogy.”

I have done a lot of eulogies in funerals.  But Peter doesn’t have a funeral in mind here.  He is saying “Eulogize people when they insult you!”  Now, when you are insulted, you might be inwardly wishing it was that person’s funeral!  But no, Peter is saying, bless them.  Here is the definition of eulogy, the specific word that Peter uses.  This definition blew me away, when I thought about how Peter uses it in the context of a person who has just been insulted!  The definition is “to ask God to bestow divine favor on, with the implication that the verbal act itself constitutes a significant benefit[1]

That is amazing.  When they insult you, eulogize ‘em! And it doesn’t mean you wish them dead!  It means you ask for God to bless them.

What’s more, Peter supports his teaching by saying that we Christians are called to eulogize people who insult us, so that we might inherit a eulogy.

Think about that.  If we bless people who insult us, or who are evil to us, that means that we will inherit a blessing.  Again, remember the definition of this word blessing, eulogy, “to ask God to bestow divine favor on.”  Would you like God to bestow his favor on you?  If so, we are to be the kind of people who ask God to bestow his favor on those who insult us or who are evil to us!

So now whenever someone says something mean to you, just put on a smile and say “I am going to eulogize you right now.”  They’ll give you a weird look.  So maybe don’t do that…they might misunderstand and think that you want them dead, which could make things worse!

Instead, you might just need to not say anything.  You know yourself.  When you are attacked, you might have a really hard time reacting with kindness.  If so, maybe the victory for you is to just respond with a smile, and pray silently in your thoughts that God would shine his favor on them.

You’ll have to evaluate the emotional temperature of the situation.  It may be that the person is so upset that they are not in a place to hear anything, even blessing.

For one of my college soccer games, we were playing another Christian college.  I played defense and my main job that game was to cover one-on-one an offensive guy from the other team.  So we battled a lot throughout the course of the game, and this guy had some attitude.

There we are, players from two Christians schools playing a level of soccer that was maybe the quality of good public high schools.  Not world cup.  Not professional.  Not even close.  And this guy on the other team was fired up, pulling at my jersey, talking nasty to me, and I’m thinking to myself, “You have got to be kidding me.”  Now I will admit that it was not a proper eulogy or blessing, and my attitude definitely had a dose of snarkiness, but at one point I looked at him and said, “Jesus loves you, man.” It was a Christian soccer player attempt at repaying an insult with a blessing.  The funny thing is that it seemed to hit home. 

After the game, he actually came up to me, shook hands and thanked me, saying that it totally convicted him!  I was shocked.  Glad, but shocked.  Embarrassed because my motivations weren’t totally pure, but still amazed that God used that.  When we played that team the next year, that guy came right up to me with a big smile, remembering the previous years’ interaction and he was like a totally different guy.  It was wild.

When they insult you, eulogize ‘em.

[1] Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains 1996 : 441. Print.

How to handle confrontation

11 Apr

Spies, taxes, a woman with seven husbands, and the most intelligent man in the world.

That pretty much sums up the next story in our ongoing series on Luke’s Gospel, which you can read about in Luke 20:20-40.  In the story, Jesus is in the final days of his life, and he has bunkered down in Jerusalem, spending each day teaching in the temple courts, and each evening in prayer outside the city.  The religious leaders hate that not only is he on their turf, but he is doing their job leading the people, and the people adore him.  They send two groups to try to take him down.

The first group the NIV calls “spies”.  Jesus had wrapped the religious up in a lose-lose situation just before, so now they are hiding in embarrassment, and they hire secret agents to try to do their dirty work.  These secret agents come up to Jesus while he is teaching in the temple courts, and after buttering him up (“You’re such an amazing teacher!”), they try to snag him with a political controversy.  About taxes.

One scholar tells us that “The secret agents are in effect asking, ‘Are God’s people exempt from paying such a tax to a foreign power? Jesus, are you loyal to Israel, looking for its independence, or should we knuckle under to Rome?’”[1]

Though the Romans did bring some benefits, the Jews hated being occupied.  As any people would. So obviously the Jews were no fan of paying taxes to Rome.  Imagine if China invades the USA and occupies our land.  Then they start taxing us.  And our taxes don’t stay here to help improve our land, our taxes go over to China to help improve theirs.  How would you feel?

Paying taxes was as much an issue back then as it is now!  So Jesus is in a really tough spot here. If he agrees with paying taxes, he could be perceived in a very negative light by the people who hated paying taxes (pretty much everyone).  If he disagrees with paying taxes, he could be accused of sedition and charged with inciting insurrection, arrest by the Roman governor, and tried as a criminal.

There seems to be no right answer.  It’s another lose-lose situation.

As we see in verses 23-26, Jesus asks for a coin, then asks them to tell him whose picture is on it.  They say “Caesar” and Jesus responds with genius: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”

Response by the secret agents?  Astonished silence.

Then Luke tells us that the religious leaders come out of hiding.  This second group, the Sadducees, try to trap him with a theological controversy.  

What was their theological issue?  Theology is the study of God.  So a theological issue is an issue about the Bible or doctrine, in this case, resurrection and marriage.  Luke tells us the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection.  They create what appears at first glance to be a bizarre case study thinking they could trap Jesus and hopefully discredit him in front of all the people.

Maybe it was a real story, a woman who outlived seven husbands.  The theological issue? In heaven whose wife would she be?

It sounds outrageous, but their example is using something from the Old Testament Law called Levirate marriage.  You can see from this passage in Deuteronomy 25:5-6 that if a husband died, his brother would marry his widowed sister-in-law to preserve his brother’s line.  So the Sadducees ask Jesus to imagine a family with seven brothers.  One gets married first, then dies.  One by one the brothers marry their sister-in-law and one by one they die.  Sound impossible?

My grandma outlived three husbands, which would have been enough to prove their point.

The Sadducees believe they have created a situation that clearly shows the ridiculousness of the doctrine of the resurrection.  A woman in heaven with seven husbands?  Who gets her?  You can see them looking at Jesus saying “There, how are you going to respond to that, smart guy?  Resurrection, which we have heard you talking about, is stupid!  Our situation proves it.”  Basically they are saying that Levirate marriage disproves resurrection.

But Jesus theologically outduels them.  He says “Well gentlemen, you are wrong in many ways.”

  1. This life is not like the afterlife. They are different!
  2. Not everyone goes to heaven. Only those considered worthy.
  3. And what’s more, there is no marriage in heaven.
  4. Resurrection is TRUE. Want proof?  Just open your Torah which you love so much.  What do you read there?  God is the living God, the God of the Living. Disproving your faulty disbelief of resurrection.

See what he does there? Another genius response that silences the religious leaders.

We can learn from Jesus’ Way.  How did he handle people who tried to trap him?

Have you ever been confronted?  I’m sure you have.  The confrontation could be about what you believe.  Could be about choices you’ve made.  Could be about a great many things.  How do you handle it when you are confronted?

Look at how Jesus handles himself:

  1. Remains self-controlled. He’s okay when people disagree with him. He doesn’t get offended, take it personally, or get angry.  He shows us a calm confidence.
  2. Does not cave on the truth just because high-powered people are confronting him.
  3. Knows the Word.
  4. Speaks the truth in love.

In the end Jesus silences both groups.  But not by force.  Not by telling the crowd to attack them.  He doesn’t use aggression or bully tactics.

Let us be people who respond to those who confront us in love.

That is true intelligence. Let us become like the one who was the most intelligent of all.

[1] Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 9:51–24:53, vol. 2, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996), 1611.

Follow up to Saying “No” to Yourself

4 Sep

So how has it been going saying “No!” to yourself?

After my story about Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream, I had one person buy my two containers of it!  Come on, people!  I’m trying to say “No!” to myself too.  I guess you felt the need to help me grow some self-control.

I also heard that the lines at Costco were crazy long on Sunday.  So that must be the time and place to go if you want to practice patience.  Maybe you’ll be able to get some of their awesome samples too!  But Costco is also a test in self-control.  Where else can you get a gallon of ketchup that cheap?

Want to continue the discussion?  What does it mean to grow self-control and patience in your life?

 

Saying “NO!” to yourself

30 Aug

It is one of the hardest things to do. 

When there is chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream in our freezer, it is nearly impossible.

When U2 releases a new album, it basically IS impossible.

What is it?

Self-control. Patience.  Two of the most difficult words in the English language.  How many of you struggle with them?  Every couple weeks for the last two years I have been trolling the internet for hints and clues of when U2 is finally going to release their next album.  Why is it taking so long?  They are notoriously, maddeningly slow in releasing new stuff.  It’s looking really good (see pie chart).

Then there is the peanut butter cup ice cream, made by Turkey Hill.  I’ve had others which are good, but nothing compares to Turkey Hill’s version.  We almost need a special locking freezer to keep it from disappearing in one night, with the raging metabolisms in our house.  My wife bought some last night for our small group which is coming over tonight, and she had to give a stern warning about not touching the ice cream.  I wonder if it worked…  She had to leave the house today for a few hours, and I am at the office.  There’s no telling the power of Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.Turkey Hill Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

So as we prepare to study self-control and patience, how about you?  Can you say “No!” to yourself?  What areas are hardest for you to have self-control and patience?